June means it is my birthday which in turn means… time to add something new to Mr. DAPs’ Railway. I had been anticipating this expansion for months (if not since first building the train a year ago) and had several ideas. None of these were 100% set in stone as I just wasn’t sure what exactly I would be getting for my birthday. I did hope however that there would be an expansion and potentially a new engine.
What Train Do I Choose?
Since first starting on this garden railway adventure, I have been asking myself the question: What train should I be building? I know that way down the line I could end up with more than one. To start off with though, I wanted to have one line that I could be building and would represent something special. I have a friend who is really into the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. This is much like the train found at Knott’s Berry Farm and let’s face it… it’s awesome! Another thought I had was to attempt to recreate the Napa Valley Railroad as I love to visit there too. At this point, that seemed like quite the stretch as there really isn’t a lot on the market for that. As more ideas popped into my mind, I almost found myself getting frustrated. Of course when you feel like you’ve run out of ideas, that’s when inspiration strikes.
As I was dreaming about the future of the railway, I was thinking about some of my favorite train experiences. As I let my mind wander I started remembering train trips with my Grandparents, specifically with Grandpa. Any trip with Grandpa to see a train (or anything really) ended up being both an adventure and a learning experience. Two excursions in particular popped into my mind: The Mount Hood Railroad in Oregon and the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad from a trip up to Alaska. Alaska quickly became the favorite. Alaska was one of Grandpa’s favorite places and trips up there were always an adventure. We would hear about his fishing trip up there as a commercial fisherman in the 50’s as he put himself through school by fishing. On my first trip to Alaska, one of the highlights was getting to board the train in Skagway and make our way across the White Pass & Yukon Route. It is an incredibly beautiful trip and I highly suggest experiencing it.
Expanding the Line
There have been many ideas over how the railroad should be expanded. As the time came to expand, we decided that we really wanted the new portion of track to really go somewhere. The first permanent section of the railway was very professional and polished so we decided this next one would be the “out of town” section. It would be more rustic and would be like a trip into nature. With this in mine, the yellow pad of paper came out and different design ideas that would fit in the yard were considered. After several attempts (and the realization that neither of us really like geometry), we came up with a working plan. As one birthday gift had already arrived, we were able to order track.
As you can see, the track goes on a lovely route that curves through what will hopefully become a vibrant garden. In the future, we hope to add a rock creek (no water) and a bridge for the train to travel over. This is what the train looked like on my birthday right after we had finished.
A Surprise White Pass Birthday Present
As I mentioned before, I had decided that White Pass was where Mr. DAPs’ Railway would be heading. On my birthday, we went to a couple of train stores to window shop and dream about what the future could hold. The last stop made was at Milepost 38. I love this store. It’s clean. The folks who run it are friendly. It has great trains. They are all larger scale trains. It’s a great place to just go and dream. On that day, I figured I would find a White Pass car and perhaps come home with it. Little did I know what I would see in a display case. We were looking for a potential engine for the railway but that was more on the blue sky dream list than anything even close to reality. Then I saw a White Pass engine. It was beautiful. It was a pipe dream though and was way out of my price range. This is what I thought as I walked out of the store at least. The next day after we had dug and filled the new track bed with gravel, laid the track, planted a few plants, and run my original Santa Fe starter set train around the loop a few times, things changed. I present was pulled out and upon unwrapping it, I discovered it was that awesome White Pass diesel engine. The engine number is 110. The original was built in 1971 by a company called Montreal Locomotive Works. From what I can tell it is an RSD-35 series engine that was one of three built in 1971 by MLW.
Within minutes I had the new engine unboxed and powering around the tracks. It looks awesome.
The track is fairly set for the most part for the Mr. DAPs’ Railway. In the future we might add one sideline that could lead to a roundhouse. For the most part, the next phase will be a focus on two part: Railway Cars and the Garden. LGB makes some pretty awesome looking cars that are both passenger and freight cars that would be incredible to add to the train. As far as the garden goes, the goal is to fill in anything that is dirt. Hopefully, this will create a great environment for the train to travel through. The great thing about a garden railroad is it is a living breathing hobby. It continues to grow (literally) as time goes by. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all develops and for now, I’m looking forward to the next spin around the track for the White Pass diesel. It really is a lot of fun.
Here is the “final” product as of a few days ago when we filmed the most updated video for Mr. DAPs’ Railway. Enjoy!